First night of Joe Biden's visit to Los Angeles area sparks protests

Michelle Fisher Image
Saturday, December 9, 2023
First night of Joe Biden's visit to Los Angeles area sparks protests
President Joe Biden kicked off his weekend-long fundraising swing in Los Angeles Friday, but as expected, the visit also generated protests.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- President Joe Biden kicked off his weekend-long fundraising swing in Los Angeles Friday, but as expected, the visit also generated protests.

Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered Friday afternoon and evening at Holmby Park, near the fundraiser, condemning U.S. funding of Israeli military strikes in Gaza with one holding a sign, "No votes for mass murderer."

An unlawful assembly and dispersal order was issued due to "the protesters' actions including throwing objects at officers and passing vehicles,'' Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.

"The crowd slowly dispersed and no arrests were made, no use of force, and no officers were injured.''

"We are really channeling our grief and anger into action, and a huge part of that is putting pressure on our own administration to end the military aid it gives to Israel every year," said Suraya Barakat with the Palestinian Youth Movement.

One demonstrator, who grew up in Palestine, traveled to Los Angeles from Orange County to voice his disappointment with Biden's visit.

"It's kind of sad he doesn't have to deal with people's loss, and many innocent people; children, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers," said Farid Frederick Salameh.

Biden spoke for 11 minutes at the star-studded fundraiser in Holmby Hills, which featured a host of Hollywood's elite. He mainly focused on the threat he claims former President Donald Trump poses to democracy.

"Literally, I believe, the future of American democracy is at stake," Biden said at the home of former U.S. ambassador to Spain James Costos and designer Michael Smith. "The greatest threat Trump poses is to our democracy, because if we lost that, we lose everything.

"We will be one of those generations that can say, "We saved democracy."

Polls have shown Trump holds an overwhelming lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Other polls have shown he has slight lead over Biden in the general election race.

Biden also discussed his administration's economic successes and confirming federal judges.

First lady Jill Biden, filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, were among those in attendance.

Singer Lenny Kravitz performed.

Republican Party officials also condemned Biden's fundraising swing.

"Today, Biden will listen to the concerns of Hollywood elitists instead of ordinary Californians suffering a violent crime epidemic, increased cost of living and Gavin Newsom's record $68 billion deficit,'' National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ben Petersen said in a statement.

"No wonder Biden is dragging down Democrats in competitive House races.''

California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement Biden's approval level in California is a "record lows.''

"It seems even deep-blue California can't get behind his disastrous agenda of high inflation, open borders, weak foreign policy, failing schools, and rampant crime,'' Patterson said. "No amount of time spent rubbing elbows with Hollywood elites while bragging about the imaginary merits of 'Bidenomics' will change the fact that Joe Biden's presidency is an abject failure.''

Biden is scheduled to speak at another fundraiser Saturday. He is set to depart Los Angeles early Sunday afternoon, bound for Washington.

Biden arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around 5 p.m. from Las Vegas where he spoke on how his "Investing in America Agenda'' is advancing his vision for world-class infrastructure across the nation.

Biden quickly walked out of Air Force One and entered a military helicopter for a flight to Santa Monica, where he then entered a motorcade to attend the fundraiser.

Jill Biden arrived in the area first, landing early Friday afternoon at Hollywood Burbank Airport. She traveled directly to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to tour research laboratories as part of the White House Initiative on Women's Health Research. She toured the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center and Smidt Heart Institute, according to the White House.

"Research on women's health has been underfunded for decades and many conditions that mostly and only affect women or affect women differently have received limited attention like those debilitating migraines and undiagnosed heart attacks,'' Biden told a crowd of about 300 people following her tour.

She added that because of those funding gaps, "we understand far too little about these conditions and how to help the millions of women who struggle with them. And these gaps are even greater for communities that historically have been excluded from research, including women of color and women with disabilities.''

The White House Initiative on Women's Health Research is aimed at "galvanizing the federal government and the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women's health,'' according to the White House.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.